Grant will fund doctoral opportunities for education and community counseling

Radford University’s Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) students will now have more opportunities to work in integrated care settings in Southwest Virginia, thanks to a Health Resources and Services Administration grant.

The $863,118 grant will support for the next three years the Rural Integrated Care Expansion Project, which places Radford doctoral students into practicum positions in local primary care settings, where they use their skills as behavioral health clinicians to augment and assist primary care services.

“Integrated care is a relatively new model where psychologists help not only with traditional mental health concerns, but also with the behavioral aspects of health care,” said Sarah Hastings, professor of psychology.

In such a setting, when a physician needs to help a patient maintain motivation to lose weight or learn how to follow a treatment regimen, a behavioral health clinician is already in the loop.

The grant will expand opportunities by increasing the number of training slots for Psy.D. students at Tri-Area Community Health and the Community Health Center of the New River Valley, organizations that provide affordable health services in Southwest Virginia communities. Students will also receive financial support while they undergo their practicum.

The grant will also allow Radford University and community partners to bring guest speakers to community health centers to educate students and professional health care workers on trends and practices in integrated care.

A key to securing the grant was in the Psy.D. program’s commitment to serving the local community, offering “culturally competent care.”

“There is a real need for providers in rural areas,” Hastings said. “We want to help students develop skills in working with rural populations, to understand the concerns rural patients bring in. We want to expose them to these opportunities so they will be equipped to work in integrated primary care settings.”

The Radford University Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Counseling Psychology is an APA-accredited program with a focus on rural mental health and additional emphases on cultural diversity, social justice and evidence-based practice in psychology.

Jun 21, 2016